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Want to sell more online? Speed is more important than style

By Marjorie van Elven


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True or false: consumers that love a certain fashion brand will buy items from said brand online, again and again. False, according to a new survey conducted by WGSN. After surveying 15,000 women aged 16 to 39 in the US and UK, the global fashion trend forecaster found out that brand love and purchase frequency online are not correlated.

First, WGSN asked the surveyors to name fast fashion brands they love.

Most loved fast fashion brands in the UK:

  • New Look -- 28 percent
  • Asos -- 25.7 percent
  • Amazon -- 24 percent
  • PrettyLittleThing -- 20.9 percent
  • H&M -- 20.2 percent
  • Boohoo -- 19.5 percent
  • Topshop-- 18.2 percent
  • Missguided -- 15.8 percent

Then, respondents were asked how many times they purchased womenswear online from the following brands in the last year:

Fast fashion brands with the highest online purchase frequency in the UK:

  • Amazon -- 4.15 times
  • Asos -- 3.80 times
  • Boohoo -- 3.74 times
  • Missguided -- 3.39 times
  • New Look -- 2.40 times
  • Zara -- 1.90 times
  • Topshop -- 1.97 times
  • H&M -- 1.81 times

Most loved fast fashion brands in the US:

  • Amazon -- 48.4 percent
  • Target -- 40 percent
  • Walmart -- 25.8 percent
  • Kohl’s -- 24.9 percent
  • Old Navy-- 22 percent
  • Macy’s-- 16.7 percent
  • J.C. Penney-- 16.7 percent
  • H&M -- 15.5 percent
  • J. Crew-- 9 percent
  • Asos -- 8.7 percent

Fast fashion brands with the highest online purchase frequency in the US:

  • Amazon -- 4.94 times
  • Asos -- 4.09 times
  • Walmart-- 2.32 times
  • J.C. Penney -- 2.27 times
  • Gap -- 2.12 times
  • Forever 21 -- 2.05 times
  • Target -- 1.99 times
  • Kohl’s -- 1.86 times
  • Old Navy-- 1.76 times
  • J. Crew -- 1.76 times
  • H&M -- 1.57 times

Why do online pure players do so much better than omnichannel brands women love?

So what do online pure players like Amazon, Asos, Boohoo and Missguided do to score more online purchases than brands respondents find stylish? The answer is plain and simple: they convey a sense of speed. These retailers constantly launch new products on their websites. They also communicate with their customer base more frequently via newsletters, editorial content and social media. WGSG also highlights their use of dynamic imagery and energetic wordplay, such as “oh-hey, vacay”. This way, they form a community and build buzz around their products. For all of these reasons, respondents perceive them as being “more exciting” online spaces to shop.

“Shoppers, especially younger ones, increasingly want (and expect) a broad range of products, new trends and regular newness. Social media has sparkled a desire for immediate gratification by consumers. They want new and they want it now”, says the report. In a nutshell, fast fashion retailers like H&M and J. Crew need to be even faster if they want to keep up with e-tailers.

Does this new, fast-paced retail landscape mean brands need to start manufacturing more and more products, though? Not necessarily. According to the study, perception of newness is more important than actual volumes. Zara, one of the brands from Inditex, is mentioned as a good example of a shop that has aced the speed game on the Internet. They keep adding new items to their online store, but in low volumes. This creates a sense of scarcity, which prompts consumers to buy right away.

Picture: New Look website, Boohoo website

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